Eric Bledsoe: Trading Young Star Would Damage LA Clippers' 'Family' Atmosphere

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 24:  (L-R) Ryan Hollins #15, DeAndre Jordan #6, Blake Griffin #32, Grant Hill #33 and Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers before the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 24, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN Los Angeles, a potential Eric Bledsoe-for-Paul Millsap swap could be on the horizon. Per Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, a deal involving Bledsoe and Kevin Garnett has also been discussed. 

As attractive as those deals may be, trading the young star would severely damage the Clippers' family atmosphere.

Per Shelburne and Stein, there is a "level of mutual interest" between the Clippers and the Utah Jazz. The deal would see Bledsoe go to Utah, and Millsap (another hot commodity on the trade market) would end up in Los Angeles.

Whether or not that will transpire is unclear, according to Shelburne and Stein:

Sources with knowledge of the situation told late Saturday there is a level of mutual interest between the Clippers and Utah Jazz in exploring a deal that would feature Bledsoe as the headliner in a trade package for Jazz forward Paul Millsap.

Although two sources with knowledge of the Clippers' thinking insisted during All-Star Weekend that Bledsoe would not be moved in coming days and strongly predicted L.A. would stand pat, two other sources indicated the Clippers and Jazz will at least discuss the feasibility of a trade.

As fate would have it, that's far from the end of the Bledsoe-related trade rumors.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that there was a shared level of interest in a potential trade between the Clippers and the Boston Celtics (via ESPN). The deal would have seen Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan head to Boston and Kevin Garnett end up in L.A.

Per the previously alluded to Yahoo! Sports report, talks are now officially on:

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers have been discussing a deal to trade forward Kevin Garnett for guard Eric Bledsoe and center DeAndre Jordan, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

There are differing factions within the Celtics and Clippers on the prudence of the deal, but the two teams have been in regular contact about the possibility, sources said.

The imminence of this deal relies heavily upon KG's willingness to wave his no-trade clause.

Even if Garnett decided to move closer to his Malibu home, the Clippers would be taking a severe risk by acquiring the future Hall of Famer. This isn't at all at the fault of Garnett, nor Millsap for that matter.

Instead, it is the risk of damaging their family atmosphere—the strength that has led the Clippers to where they are today.


All About Chemistry

As of the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Clippers are 39-17. A major reason for this hot start has been the unparalleled chemistry and trust between each and every player on the roster.

It's been that way since the team collectively took a trip to China during the preseason.

Today, the Clippers are one of the most close-knit squads in the NBA. They hold each other accountable for every fault and encourage one another at every down moment.

As Jamal Crawford put it, dealing any member of their team would be like losing a family member (via HoopsHype):

“No, we don’t want to make a trade,” said Crawford, averaging 17.1 points per game. “We are family and it would be like trading a family member.”

“We don’t think there is one thing we need that is missing,” he said. “We have everything.”

It's hard to argue with anything Crawford said.

The Clippers are 39-17 and rank in the top 10 in scoring offense, scoring defense, assists and turnover differential. While some have come to criticize their half-court offense, there is one factor that those folks have yet to take into account.



Finally Getting Healthy

Chauncey Billups only recently came back from a slew of injuries. In two short games, Billups has changed the dynamic of L.A.'s already potent offense.

Billups is averaging 20.0 points and 4.5 three-point field goals made in just 18.0 minutes during his past two appearances. Half-court issues solved.  

Furthermore, All-Star point guard Chris Paul missed 12 games during the first half of the regular season. In that time, it was Eric Bledsoe who stepped up to keep the Clippers from collapsing.

Bledsoe averaged 17.4 points, 7.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.8 blocks during the final five games in which Paul was absent.

If that's not enough, Jamal Crawford has missed three games and Blake Griffin sat out for two. As we pass the All-Star break, two things have become perfectly clear about the Clips.

They are elite when healthy and benefit most from having unparalleled depth. So why would they trade their most important reserve?


The Young Gun

The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the deepest and most versatile backcourts in the NBA. From elite facilitators and lockdown defenders to clutch shooters and scoring machines, there is no shortage of production on either end of the floor.

Eric Bledsoe, however, is something no other Clippers guard can claim to be—a young player with explosive athleticism.

There is no denying that the Clippers could be faced with losing Bledsoe at a future point in time. As he develops into a legitimate starting point guard, it's unlikely that he will consider playing sixth man for Chris Paul as sufficient.

With that being said, we'd be remiss to ignore the possibility of Chris Paul signing elsewhere come the offseason.

Bledsoe is not only the athletic dynamo of the Clippers backcourt, but he's their potential franchise point guard. As plausible as it is that Kevin Garnett and Paul Millsap could help guide them to a title, L.A. must think long term.

Paul could be on the way out and Bledsoe is quite an attractive option for the label of "point guard of the future."

With all of this being said, don't think for a second that Bledsoe isn't needed in the short term. He's a dominant defender, a budding offensive weapon and the most athletically gifted perimeter player along the Clippers' perimeter.

Perhaps most important of all, Bledsoe is an intricate member of the Clippers family.


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